Sunday, July 11, 2010

A good place to start? The basics: i.e. scrambled eggs.

I might as well start with the ultimate 101 basic recipe. That's right, it's scrambled egg o'clock! Raise your hand if this is the first thing you were taught to make. Hey, me too!

Properly scrambled eggs are one of the joys of life. Properly scrambled eggs are unlike anything you've ever eaten in a restaurant, unless you've had them in a very very good French restaurant, prepared lovingly by an actual chef. If you did, they probably involved truffles. These are not the kind of eggs you'll find sitting next to a couple of strips of burnt bacon, a side of home fries and dried out, under-buttered toast in a harshly-lit all-night pancake house at 3 am. These eggs are not to be eaten with ketchup. If you do eat them with ketchup, I don't want to know about it. You can keep that little tidbit to yourself.

This is how I make scrambled eggs:

In a bowl, briskly whisk 2 or 3 eggs with a fork, just until you don't see any big areas of unbeaten white. Don't over-whisk, as it will toughen the eggs. Don't add salt at this point, for the same reason.

Be entirely ready to cook the eggs and don't have any distractions. It only takes about 120 seconds, so don't answer the phone or try to do two things at once. Anything less than perfect scrambled eggs are not worth eating, as eggs are cheap and quick. If you screw them up, feed them to your dog and try again.

In a small cast-iron or stainless steel skillet or omelette pan, melt a large pat of good, unsalted butter (or bacon fat) over high heat, just until melted and foamy, but not at all browned. Pour in your eggs.

Now, there are two ways to do this. You can either whisk the eggs in the pan with a fork and keep them moving constantly, just until they are thickened but very soft (not even cooked, really), or you can use one of those nifty silicone spatulas that are heatproof and use it to briskly scrape the bottom of the pan as the eggs cook and thicken into large soft curds. I do the spatula.

When they are still very soft and liquidy, but thickened, throw in another big pat of butter and stir in. Or, if you're a dairy fiend and you feel like something different, you can add a dollop of room-temperature creme fraiche, sour cream, mascarpone, or soft fresh goat cheese at this point.

By this time, the eggs will still be very soft, but forming soft curds and they should be at a point where you should turn them onto a warm plate. They will keep cooking, so don't keep them in the pan too long because you're worried they will be runny! Eggs should never be cooked past soft, unless you're some sort of rubber-loving masochist. Not only does the texture suffer, but the taste does too.

Sprinkle with your favourite salt and a little freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Oh yes.

If you want to get fancy, you can sprinkle on a few snipped chives or a couple of drops of truffle oil. But seriously, good scrambled eggs are fine, just as is.

If you want a French rolled omelette, it's basically the same method. Only, just after adding the second knob of butter, remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for about 10 or 15 seconds. At this point, you can add some chopped fresh herbs, like thyme or tarragon, if you like, or a few gratings of your favourite cheese. Then, lift the pan and tilt it towards your warmed plate, resting one edge of the pan on the plate. Starting at the top, take a spatula and start folding the omelette over until it rolls out of the pan and onto the plate. Ta-da! Omelette!


  1. Waaaaa! Ketchup - the worst sin that could be committed against a poor defenseless scrambled egg.

    IMHO, scrambled eggs are one of the finest meals possible - breakfast, lunch, or dinner - they are always perfection.

  2. Hey BPB! I sometimes make a cooked tomato sauce for eggs that a friend of mine calls "rich man`s ketchup." It`s basically halved cherry tomatoes and slivered garlic, fried in a ridick amount of olive oil with some fresh herbs thrown in. It`s gooood.

  3. I've been known to threaten people who try to put ketchup on my omelettes ;) But salsa and diced tomatoes are permitted, so you're tomato sauce would be perfect. I've got a ton of fresh herbage at my fingertips at the moment.

  4. I get threaten-ey when people automatically salt food before tasting it. PET PEEEEEVE. Well, not threaten-ey, but I WILL give a dirty look.

  5. Made scrambled eggs according to these directions last night as a side dish to some grilled salmon and hollandaise sauce. They were amazing!

  6. Awesome! And, might I add: holy protein-ey dinner, Batman.